Mental health and general surgeons: A seldom-spoken topic


I’ve spent countless hours under the bright lights of the operating room. As a general surgeon, like junuk kim md, facs, I’m well-acquainted with the physical demands of my profession. We talk about these often. Yet, there’s a silent aspect to this job that’s seldom spoken about – the toll it takes on our mental health. It’s a critical topic, one that hides in the shadows of the surgical world. By pulling it into the light, we can start to address it with the urgency it deserves.

Why Surgeons are at Risk

Imagine this. You’re holding a scalpel, responsible for a human life. There’s a constant weight of making life-or-death decisions. It’s high pressure – no room for mistakes. This mental burden is immense and it’s something we carry home with us.

The Silent Struggle

There’s a stigma around mental health in our profession. We’re expected to be unflappable, and unemotional. We’re not supposed to show any signs of struggle. But we’re human, just like anyone else. We feel, we hurt, we struggle.

History Tells a Story

Take a look back at history. Many great surgeons battled their own mental health issues. Their stories are often overshadowed by their groundbreaking work. But these stories exist. They serve as a stark reminder that mental health concerns are not isolated incidents, but rather an enduring, hidden challenge in our profession.

The Way Forward

So, what’s the answer? We need to start talking. We need to pull mental health out of the shadows and into the surgical spotlight. It’s about creating a culture of understanding and empathy. It’s about recognizing that it’s okay to struggle and seeking help when we need it.

Final Thoughts

Mental health in the surgical world is often overlooked. Yet, like any unsolved problem, it won’t go away if we ignore it. We need to face it head-on, offer support, and promote open conversation. It’s a tough job, and we need to take care of ourselves to do it well.

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